Well, they went and did it:
Tony La Russa, a member of baseball’s Hall of Fame, the third-winningest manager in baseball history, a three-time World Series champion and a four-time winner of the Manager of the Year Award, has been named the new manager of the Chicago White Sox. pic.twitter.com/RKP24rleHP— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) October 29, 2020
This... I almost can’t speak here. This has to be one of the most bizarre managerial hirings in history. Tony La Russa last managed nine years ago, in 2011. He’s nine years older than the current oldest manager in MLB, Joe Maddon, and Maddon’s a young thinker, more forward-thinking than his 66 years.
Here’s what La Russa said on his hiring:
Statement from La Russa (Part 1): “While I have had other inquiries about managing since retiring, this opportunity with the White Sox brings together a number of important factors that make this the right time and the right place. ...— LaMond Pope (@lamondpope) October 29, 2020
(Part 2): "“The on-field talent is amazing, and the front office, led by Kenny Williams and Rick Hahn, has done everything necessary to create an atmosphere of long-term success. ...— LaMond Pope (@lamondpope) October 29, 2020
(Part 3): "All of those factors aligned to make this a tremendous opportunity, and I am excited to get going as soon as possible by building a coaching staff and getting to work.”— LaMond Pope (@lamondpope) October 29, 2020
Blah, blah, blah, it all sounds good, but Tony La Russa is 76 years old! He should be retired and enjoying life! TLR and his fellow Tampa-area native and friend Lou Piniella are about one year apart in age and Lou’s been retired from managing for 10 years. Most teams, when looking for a manager, are looking for younger, analytics-driven guys who will get along with the front office. David Ross was such a hire for the Cubs. How is La Russa going to get along with players young enough to be his grandchildren?
Further, this goes completely against what White Sox GM Rick Hahn said he was looking for:
#WhiteSox GM Rick Hahn said that for a manager they would be looking for an experienced candidate with recent experience in a championship organization. Let me look that up in my thesaurus. Ah, it says Alex Cora and A.J. Hinch. Who else falls into that category?— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) October 12, 2020
I dunno about you, but I don’t think “2011” qualifies as “recent” championship experience. Baseball has changed quite a bit over the last nine years. Why do you think La Russa was hired? Here’s one person who gets it:
The hiring of Tony La Russa has ruffled feathers in the White Sox organization. A number of employees have concerns about his ability to connect with younger players and how he will adapt to the field after being away 9 years.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) October 29, 2020
This was a Jerry Reinsdorf decision. Simple as that.
Oh, yes. Jerry Reinsdorf. The guy who put Hawk Harrelson in charge of his baseball operation in 1986, just in time for Harrelson to fire La Russa as manager — just before TLR went on to successful managing stints in Oakland and St. Louis. If you don’t think this is Reinsdorf trying to make that up to his buddy TLR... that’s exactly what this is.
The last time La Russa managed the White Sox, Tom Seaver was one of his starting pitchers, that’s how long ago it was. THIRTY-FOUR YEARS AGO! How long ago was that?
Tony La Russa is so old, he used hairspray pic.twitter.com/dfblBK6dEE— Brian I VOTED (@Go_GoSox) October 29, 2020
I haven’t checked to make sure, but I believe the oldest men ever to manage were Connie Mack, who owned his team, and Jack McKeon, who took over the Marlins in 2003 and... well, you know all about that. Both those men were in their 80s when they had their last managing positions, and other than that I believe La Russa will be the oldest man ever to manage a MLB team.
It’s absurd, in my view. It’s almost preordained to fail. And in case you were wondering:
Congratulations, @TonyLaRussa on being named manager of the @whitesox! This marks the first time in baseball history that a Hall of Famer elected as a manager will return to the dugout. https://t.co/cSjelEh2wt pic.twitter.com/bpGAD5XZh3— National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum ⚾ (@baseballhall) October 29, 2020
When the Sox hired Ozzie Guillen as manager, Mike Bojanowski said to me, “This is either the smartest thing they’ve ever done, or the dumbest.” Well, the Sox did win the World Series under Guillen, so that worked out all right, even though he was later fired. In this case, I’d amend that statement to read, “This is either the dumbest thing they’ve ever done, or ... the dumbest.”
I think it’ll be a major failure. What say you?
Tony La Russa as White Sox manager...
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